Religion in Tanzania

1961 Independence

Independence came in 1961 and then as a result of negotiations. Tanzania’s starting point was thus quite different from, for example, neighboring Mozambique, which first gained independence in 1975 following armed liberation struggles and revolutionary mobilization.

In Zanzibar, two nationalist organizations joined in February 1957 to form the Afro-Shirazi Party. Yet, in 1963, the British transferred power to the Arab minority. Only a month later, the unpopular government was overthrown in an uprising led by Afro-Shirazi. For three months, Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined forces in the United Republic of Tanzania.

Neither in the economic nor the political field did profound changes occur in the first years after independence. The dependence on British personnel and assistance was great. According to Countryaah data, the development plans were developed by the World Bank and in the neo-colonialist style, private investment, commodity production and foreign aid were invested.

In the mid-1960s, however, the country was plunged into economic crisis: Tanzania did not have the minerals or a viable market that could attract foreign companies. Assistance from the United States, Britain and West Germany was halted because of Tanzania’s independent foreign policy and criticism of Western countries’ support for racist regimes in southern Africa. At the same time, the prices of coffee, cotton and sisal fell sharply.

It was clear that the social and regional inequalities in the country were increasing. The first sprouts for a neo-colonial elite – or bureaucratic bourgeoisie – emerged, and an increasing share of budgets went to cities rather than to the country. During this economic and social crisis, the discussion on future developments was sharpened.

People in Tanzania

1967 The Arusha Declaration

In 1967, a central document was passed reflecting that the progressive wing of the party – headed by President Nyerere – had taken control. The so-called Arusha Declaration criticized the policy that had hitherto been pursued, outlining in general terms an objective of socialism and self-reliance (the “self-reliance”) as the central elements.

In practice, this should entail, among other things, nationalization of the key industries, banks and trading companies, as well as a greater focus on the villages. Furthermore, a ban was imposed on people with political positions being able to take care of financial interests – such as board positions in foreign companies, houses for rent, more agriculture or electricity, which are otherwise so common in other African countries. At the same time, joining the nationalization and socialization program reflected the bureaucracy’s desire to expand “its” sector, and the move was made possible by the opposition being weak. Tanzania had no national citizenship of importance and played a modest role for international capital.

To transform living and production conditions in the countryside, in the late 1960s, a strategy was devised to move people together in ujamaa villages (by the Swahili Order of Large Family, Community, Socialism). The idea was that this should prevent capitalist agriculture from developing further, while at the same time allowing the villagers to jointly increase production, strengthen their political participation and gain better access to common goods.

After a hesitant start – such as reflected the weaknesses in TANU’s ability to politically mobilize – in 1973 the merger was started. The original ideals such as voluntariness, joint production and socialism were dimmed, and in many places the confluence was carried out with bureaucratic control, without the wishes of the local people being heard. In 1979, 13-14 million lived in such villages.

In 1977, the TANU and Afro-Shirazi Party of Zanzibar were merged, and the new party was named Chama cha Mapinduzi (Revolutionary Party), becoming the country’s highest political authority.

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According to thesciencetutor, in October 1978, Tanzania was invaded by Ugandan troops. It was a clear attempt by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin to strengthen his home front while at the same time weakening Tanzania’s active solidarity with the liberation struggles in southern Africa. The attack was reversed within a few weeks, and Tanzania’s troops subsequently actively contributed to overthrowing Amin.

Tanzania Religion